computer-aided engineering (CAE), in industry, the integration of design and manufacturing into a system under the direct control of digital computers. CAE combines the use of computers in industrial design work, or computer-aided design (CAD), with their use in manufacturing operations, or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). This integrated process is commonly called CAD/CAM. CAD systems generally consist of a computer with one or more terminals featuring video monitors and interactive graphics-input devices; they can be used to design such things as machine parts, patterns for clothing, or integrated circuits. CAM systems involve the use of numerically controlled machine tools and high-performance programmable industrial robots.
In a CAE system, drawings developed and revised during the design process are converted directly into instructions for the production machines that will manufacture the desired object. CAE systems reduce the time needed to develop new products and increase productivity by optimizing production flow and scheduling and by providing greater flexibility in altering machine operations.